Monday, February 23, 2009

Economists uncertain about broadband's potential

The rural broadband provision in the stimulus package was promoted as developing more jobs in rural areas, but economists at a conference last week said the provision's effects aren't as inevitable as frequently stated.

One problem with job-creation projections is that they often ignore that fact that "technology that helps fewer people get more work done may be good for the economy in the long run, but it makes extra workers redundant," writes Saul Hansell in The New York Times. Raul Katz, a Columbia University professor, noted that increased broadband might also increase the number of outsourced jobs. After all, "When the general store has broadband, it can send its tax returns to India rather than hiring the corner C.P.A.," writes Hansell. "Katz published several scenarios that range from a loss of 110,000 jobs to the creation of 164,000 jobs." (Read more)

Rural broadband has been dominating the web lately, with the National Rural Assembly publishing a report entitled "Rural Broadband Principles and Policy Recommendations," the Daily Yonder's county-by-county analysis of broadband accessibility, and the Rural Policy Research Institute's policy brief on the subject.

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